For years, WonderCon (which runs Fri.-Sun. in Anaheim, CA) was like the unwanted stepchild of Comic-Con to anybody not living in San Francisco. Put on by the same people, yet never much of a must-see because everyone was busy saving for their San Diego trip. Besides, it wasn’t like much news ever broke out of there. The perception changed a bit when the first really good look at Green Lantern was premiered there, and Christopher Nolan’s obvious preference for San Francisco over San Diego has led to some Bat-stuff over the years. But now it’s in Anaheim, which is closer to the big movie studios, and they’re paying a bit more attention.
Last year, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender came to promote Prometheus, Peter Berg showed the only good parts of Battleship, Rian Johnson debuted the full Looper trailer, and Chris Hardwick launched the Nerdist Channel. This year? Well, there are at least ten good reasons I can see for making the trek down to Orange County this weekend. Here they be, in no particular order of merit:
10. You can actually get into panels.
This is a biggie. Everybody knows that at San Diego Comic-Con, you need to get in the room a good 2-3 panels earlier than the one you actually want to go to, which is especially annoying if you have to sit through Twilight to get a peek at Avatar. Last year at WonderCon, all the panels I mentioned above were ones I was able to walk right into, even going in and out if I wanted (which is useful, because as in Comic-Cons of old, the big ballroom has no bathroom). Yes, I had to line up for some, but the line always got all the way in. This will change as more and more people become aware of that fact, but it sure beats the hourlong wait I did last summer to see the SDCC Max Brooks panel and still not get in.
9. Most of what you like about Comic-Con, less of what you don’t.
As in: there are lots of similar vendors; multiple panels on movies, TV and comics; cool cosplayers; and a fan-friendly atmosphere. What else is there? Oh yeah: PARKING. And space to walk in the aisles of the convention floor without bumping into everybody. Again, this could change as soon as it becomes a less well-kept secret (oops), but the Anaheim Convention Center hasn’t even opened all its potential space to the show yet.
Ooh, look at the writer man with his fancy words! Believe it or not, it’s easier and more to the point than saying “you’re conventioning side-by-side with a bunch of other stuff that’s very, very different,” only now I’ve said both so whatevs. I can remember years when it was possible to drink a beer at the Irish pub in the Marriott next to the San Diego Convention Center, and have conversations with people who had no idea there was something comic-related going on next door, because they were in town for a paper convention or something. Nowadays, you can’t beer-burp without a cosplayer being within earshot.
In Anaheim, however, there may be any number of other things going on in adjacent convention rooms, like gymnastics conventions or a volleyball championship. At times it can be fun to remember what it was like when the geeks hadn’t taken over the world and all the available floorspace and wi-fi.
7. This exclusive vinyl figure of Mickey Mouse as a zombie bomber pilot.
Yours for only $100. Ironically, you will probably be parking in a Disney lot in order to buy this item.
6. Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg all in the same room…
…Trying desperately to stay on the topic they actually came to discuss, Much Ado About Nothing. Look, we know you just want to ask about Firefly and SHIELD and Avengers 2, but do what any good interviewer does: humor them with questions on the subject they’re here to talk about first.
Alas, I’ll miss this panel because it’s on Sunday, but for those of you with nowhere else to be…Happy Easter!
5. It’s not TV…It’s TV in a huge hall, slightly in advance.
Many TV shows will be screening early episodes, including Doctor Who, which will show both on Friday and Sunday, so that nobody need miss the episode on cable due to being at WonderCon. The familiar time lord isn’t the only good doctor premiering, however, as Dr. Lecter administers a double dose of advance Hannibal episodes. Plus Revolution, Arrow, The Following, Teen Titans Go! – they’ll get panels as well, but first you can actually watch some episodes premiere on Friday night. Because you know you paid the big bucks to see stuff you can catch at home eventually…being FIRST to do it is all that matters.
4. Sony day, shootin’ the…dead away.
Three words: Bruce F’in Campbell. The chin is the true centerpiece of Sony’s presentation, as he presents exclusive clips from the Evil Dead remake, kickin’ Ash and takin’ names. Oh yeah, and some guys named Seth Rogen and Danny McBride will be there too, to promote their end of the world movie, This Is the End.
We have seen a little of both those movies before, though. What we haven’t seen anything of is The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, about an alternate-reality New York filled with monsters and demons. Director Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid remake), author Cassandra Clare and star Lily Collins will debut the first look. Can a version of New York filled with demons truly measure up in scariness and danger to the actual New York?
3. Tora! Tora! Toro!
Guillermo del Toro, that is, who’ll be appearing along with James Wan at the WB/Legendary panel, featuring Pacific Rim and The Conjuring. On the one hand, giant monsters versus giant robots. On the other, Lili Taylor gets scared by a ghost that claps. Massively different scales, yet both men are masters of their own dark corners of the cinematic realm. Bonus: if you sneak in a secret flask and take a drink every time Guillermo says “fuck,” you will no longer feel your sore feet…or your face…or much of anything else except that headache the next day.
Extra bonus: there’s an outside chance they might show that Godzilla teaser from Comic-Con again. Or new Superman clips.
2. They’re showing new Superman and Batman movies in their entirety!
That’s right: Superman Unbound and Lego Batman! What, you were expecting DC to show you some live-action movies? Animation is their comfort zone, and they’re actually good at it. Don’t push poor DC; they’ve had a long decade.
1. I’ll be there!
No, not on any panels. I’ll just be lugging around a hefty laptop over my shoulder and trying to write about what I see – if the posting schedule gets in any way erratic on Friday, it’ll be because I either erred tremendously in my assessment of the crowds, or their wi-fi projections were optimistic. Either way, bear with me because you’ll probably get some Saturday posts out of me too.
And if any readers are going who want to meet up – I’m game! Make your suggestions below and we’ll figure out what works.
Luke Y. Thompson has been writing professionally about movies and pop-culture since 1999, and has also been an actor in some extremely cheap culty and horror movies you will probably never hear much about (he is nonetheless mostly proud of them, as he met his wife on one). As editor of The Robot's Voice since 2012, he can take the blame for the majority of the site's content, all of which he creates because he loves you very, very much. (Although he loves nachos more. Sorry.)
Prior to TRV, Luke wrote for publications that include the New Times LA, Los Angeles CityBeat, E! Online, OC Weekly, Geekweek, GeekChicDaily, The L.A. Times, The Village Voice, LA Weekly, and Nerdist